MORE THAN A STUDENT
Andrea Pruett, nee Thurmond, graduated from Missouri State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance in May 2007. Not content to stop at one degree, she entered MSU’s accelerated MBA program and graduated in December 2008. During the last years of her education, she also worked as an intern for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Upon graduation, she accepted the position of Financial Institution Specialist with the FDIC’s Division of Risk Management Supervision.
Andrea’s primary function at the FDIC is to perform and participate in the Risk Management examinations of financial institutions to ensure they operate in a safe and sound manner. Her preliminary training with the FDIC also provided her with experience in various other divisions within the FDIC, such as the Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, the Division of Insurance and Research, and the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection.
When asked what she likes most about her current job, Andrea responds that her position provides fresh challenges every day. “While such challenges are expected of someone of my tenure who is still in training (a minimum three-year program at the FDIC), I have found through experience and conversations with more seasoned examiners that new, daily challenges remain no matter how well-trained you are. An examiner can go from one bank to the next and perform the same function, but find very different circumstances that pose different threats for each bank.”
Besides the daily challenges, the FDIC provides Pruett with ample opportunity to challenge herself through additional outside training opportunities, cross-divisional work experiences, and interdivisional detail assignments, all of which are voluntary and available to commissioned examiners. These opportunities give FDIC employees knowledge and experience that either adds to the examination process or provides for future career advancement.
Andrea started her career in the FDIC’s rotational training program in January, 2009. Due to the business need, this rotational period was extended beyond the normal time frame for several training classes, including Pruett’s. While normally lasting one year, her program lasted about 18 months and included a five month stay in Dallas, working for the Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, nine months in Risk Management examinations, two weeks of training with the Division of Insurance and Research, and four months of Consumer Protection examinations. After completing the rotational training program, Andrea was assigned to a permanent career path as a Risk Management examiner in the Springfield field office. Right now, she is working on obtaining her commission in Risk Management and as of this May, will have attended three of the five required core examination training schools. She expects to be fully commissioned by June of 2012.
When asked how her MSU training has helped her on the job, Pruett responds that “my time at MSU, and specifically my time in COBA, helped me develop an understanding of the basic things I needed to know about how businesses function and the markets in which they function. My Finance, Accounting and Economics classes were the core of those basic skills and knowledge sets, but absolutely every class that had a presentation component has proven useful to me in my current position. Every bank examination requires the presentation of findings to the bank’s senior management and Board of Directors, and these presentations all require a level of professionalism that can only be obtained through practice and experience. While my ability to analyze a bank comes from the core skills I learned and developed in my major and minor fields, my presentation skills were honed in almost every class I took at MSU.”
Pruett credits a portion of the quality of her collegiate experience the professors from whom she had the privilege to learn. After obtaining a Bachelors degree in Finance and an MBA with an emphasis in Finance, Pruett says that she probably took a class with most of the professors in the FGB department. “I think that those professors have such a wealth of knowledge to share and most are eager to find a student to share it with.” Andrea identifies Dr. James Scott and Dr. Stephen Haggard as the professors that mentored her the most. “Dr. Scott was very influential in my decision to pursue my MBA. He really treated me like more than a face in the classroom and took the time to challenge me to think beyond the textbooks. He pushed me to be more involved and helped to provide avenues to do so. I never had a class with Dr. Haggard, but I worked as his Graduate Assistant though my entire MBA studies. I was able to assist him and his wife (Dr. Dana Haggard of the Management Department) on a joint paper they were working on, and during that time, I developed a working relationship with the two that really provided me with some valuable experiences in regards to research and theory development. More than that though, they both took advantage of the opportunities to impart some of the practical knowledge they had acquired.” Pruett states that the key aspect of the added value she received from Dr. Haggard and Dr. Scott was the fact that “they treated me like more than a student. They listened to my input and respected the effort and work I put into the input I provided. They didn’t treat our interactions like a one-sided lecture from a professor to a student; rather, they made me feel like our discussions were collaborative. It allowed me to develop a confidence in the knowledge I had gained from the university and see the applicability beyond the classroom.”
In addition to her success in the classroom, Pruett was a member of the MSU Handball team starting as a freshman in Fall of 2003. She had started practicing with the team during her high school years (she’s from Nixa), so she was very active and spent a lot of time on the handball courts after classes. Within the College of Business Administration, Andrea was a member of Financial Management Association and acted as Treasurer/Vice President for 2008. She was also a Graduate Assistant during her MBA studies and provided additional tutoring to students in Finance classes.
When asked what her advice to current FGB students would be, Andrea says, “take an interest in the subject you are being taught. Take the extra step to think of things in a way that is beyond the textbook. If you can make that extra effort, your professors can really help you develop an understanding of the subject that will make it useful to you after you graduate. Another piece of advice is to take your presentations and report writing seriously, but not too seriously. Pay attention to what you do when you are preparing yourself for those things but know that, in the real world, you have to adapt the skills you learn to make them applicable to your specific situation. Don’t get too stuck on how you had to do it for a particular class. I have never made a presentation in the real world like I had to do in my marketing classes. I didn’t go into a field that would require that exact type of presentation, but I certainly gained knowledge from having to do that presentation that I can put to use on a regular basis in my current job. Even though they might not be as interesting to you as the classes in your major field, there is value in the classes outside of the FGB department; don’t pretend like they don’t matter, because you are missing out on an opportunity to be a well-rounded individual if you do.”
Andrea originally started her college career as a psychology major, but quickly realized that she wanted a little more knowledge of the business world than she would get through that course of study. Economics appealed to her, but it had a tendency to be more abstract and less specific making it more difficult to apply to a variety of job situations. Pruett likes working with numbers, but the rigidity of accounting was not all that attractive to her. “After taking my first finance class, I was hooked. When you are trying to communicate being ‘hooked’ after a finance class to someone outside of finance, it’s hard to explain. It wasn’t until I took a class with Dr. Scott during my graduate studies that I heard the explanation of finance that put into words why I found it so interesting. Finance is simply a combination of accounting and economics. Not to say that I wasn’t told that before taking graduate courses, but I think it took me that long to understand the bits and pieces of finance that I liked, so that when I heard the explanation again it was applicable to my own understanding of what I liked about the subject. I enjoy a little gray area and, although there are the rules imposed by accounting standards that give you more of a black and white world, adding economics gives you some gray to keep you guessing. So I guess that’s what attracted me to finance, my favorite color is gray. It’s no real surprise that my job is riddled with gray areas as well.”
Andrea currently resides in Springfield with her husband (and best friend), Casey Pruett. Andrea says “We don’t have kids yet, but we do have an English Setter mix, Charlie, who is acting as a pretty good place holder for the time being!” Andrea really loves to travel, which has been aided by her job.” I’ve spent time in California, Washington DC, Dallas and many other interesting places because of my job. Not to falsely prop up the travel aspect of the gig though, I do spend some time in some very uninteresting small towns, so it all balances out.” In the little spare time she has, she enjoys running, which is one of the few exercises that she can do consistently on the road. She’s also an avid reader, which also travels well, and says that “I really miss my free student subscription to the Wall Street Journal.”